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Call of the Father. Hosea 11:1-9.
June 18, 2017

If you spend time around groups of kids, be it in sports, music, social or other setting, you will quickly notice some interesting interactions. One that I have seen repeated time and time again revolves around how parents treat their own children when other children are around. If they are in a position of leading a group of children where their own children are involved, one of the most tragic scenes is of the permissive child. This is a situation where the parent will fail to discipline a child for rebellious behavior. They may scold the child, probably because they are embarrassed of the action, but no real consequences follow the scolding. The result is usually a rebellious child, who has increasing rebellious tendencies. Character molded on the sports field will usually develop either of respectful fortitude, or rebellious intemperance.


In Hosea 11:1-11, we see the father whose hopes for his child have been frustrated by the child’s rebellious behaviour. The prophet who has himself known the depths of rejected love is privileged to portray the unfathomable depth of the love of God who will not relinquish those whom he has acknowledged as his own. Though their conduct has rendered punishment inevitable, God will work to achieve his objectives even through the imposition of penalty. No longer can exile be avoided, but the prospect of return after exile is presented.


There is no better father in the universe than God the Father. Not only do we see His dealings being loving, they properly balance that love with discipline and correction. Although experiencing rejection, and waywardness from His children, He does not disown them, but calls them back to covenant faithfulness. This is so instructive, not only to appreciate God’s love and dealings with us, but for our human relationships as well. There is no better blueprint for human fathers to follow, and for children, to see their rebellious inclinations. Mutual love, consequences for rebellion and a call for repentance and restoration is instructive for all our lives.


Desiring remembrance, present reformation and future hope, God the Father calls His people back to covenant faithfulness. This picture is one where we see God as Father to His children. As such is it a picture of love, longing and leadership that is both instructive and comforting for human fathers who have to deal with every day difficulties in their Children. God shows the loving “Call of the Father” in declaring His actions in 1) The Past (Hosea 11:1-4), 2) Present (Hosea 11:5-7) and 3)Future (Hosea 11:8-11) dealings with His children.


The loving “Call of the Father”, can be seen in:

1)      The Past dealings with His children. (Hosea 11:1-4)

Hosea 11:1-411 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. (ESV)


In verse 1,When Israel was a child/youth looks back to the founding of the nation at the time of the Exodus and their formative years (2:15; Jer. 2:2; Ezek. 16:22, 43, 60). As a term for age, youth’ may apply from infancy (cf. Exod. 2:6; 1 Sam. 4:21) through to late adolescence (cf. Gen. 37:2) and beyond (Gen. 41:12 when Joseph is 30 years old), but the picture here is of the early years when the people were still vulnerable and helpless, incapable of extricating themselves from the oppression of their situation in Egypt, and consequently also unable to bear the responsibilities placed on them (cf. 11:3). In this connection Solomon’s words are significant: ‘I am a mere youth: I do not know how to go out or come in’ (1 Kgs. 3:7). ‘Youth’ implies a lack of experience which requires guidance to make correct decisions or intervene effectively in public affairs (cf. Jer. 1:6–7). It is also possible that the word ‘youth’ is employed here because it sometimes has the sense ‘servant’ or ‘attendant’ (cf. Gen. 22:3; Neh. 4:16). In Egypt Israel had been not only immature but also enslaved.

  • This is the beginning of our earthy fatherhood. Youth naturally want to advance at the fastest pace. In the early year, proper fatherhood recognized their vulnerability and inability for complex responsibility.


I loved him points to the intimate and fond relationship which the Lord instituted (and continued to maintain) between himself and the people (cf. 3:1–2; 9:15; 14:4) by setting his love on them (cf. Deut. 7:7; 10:15). ‘Love’ at a human level denotes the positive emotional attachment of one person to another, primarily in a family relationship. It gives rise to a special concern for the well-being of the individual who is loved. So, at a time when their situation was desperate and there was nothing to commend the Israelites to the Lord, the Father gave evidence of his love for them by sovereignly intervening to deliver them from oppression and to constitute them his own by taking them out of Egypt.

  • Godly human fatherhood is not afraid of expressing and showing affection.


I called my son issues not an invitation but a command. Moreover, it goes beyond a directive to the people to leave Egypt. It is the sovereign summons of the Lord to those he has called by which he designates them to a special role in his service(cf. Isa. 41:9; 43:1; 51:2). Furthermore, what is in view here is not merely dutiful obedience, but the grateful response of those who now enjoy the privileged status of a new, elevated relationship with the Lord. ‘My son’ formally bestowed this on the nation when it was announced in Exodus 4:22–23, ‘And you will say to Pharaoh,Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, ‘Let my son go so that he may serve me.’ ” ’ It is this relationship which underpins the Lord’s action with respect to Israel at the Exodus and subsequently (cf. Deut. 4:37–39; 7:8, 13; 32:6, 10–14). It was this relationship which should have informed and motivated Israel’s response.

  • The proper aim of all earthy parenting is heart change. It is too easy to expect outward conformity. We say things like:I don’t want to hear that”, instead of askingwhy do you say that” ? If all we aim for is outward restraint, then we raise a generation of little Pharisees, that learn to act and say the right things while at home. If this is all that was expected, then when they leave home they often leave that outward restraint behind.

Please turn to Matthew 2 (p.808)


Matthew’s narrative highlights God’s preserving love in the early years of Jesus’ life.But more than that is involved. Although ‘My son’ is a designation of the covenant community, first found in Exodus 4:22–23, it is finally and completely realised in the incarnation of the Messiah, and so it warrants Matthew connecting the essential theme of the two passages.

Matthew 2:13-15 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (ESV)

  • Matthew 2:15 forthrightly declares the Christological import of Hosea’s statement by applying Israel’s exodus to Jesus’ deliverance from Herod’s plot. By analogy, just as God delivered Israel from bondage to ensure the progression of redemptive history leading to Christ, so God delivered Christ from Herod, thus preserving His Son to accomplish His redemptive purpose (Beeke, J. R., Barrett, M. P. V., & Bilkes, G. M. (Eds.). (2014). The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible (p. 1239). Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books.).


Because of the disobedience of the people, the relationship between the Lord and Israel did not progress smoothly. We see in verse 2, “The more they were called, the more they went away”. The Lord did not call his people to himself only once, but did so on a series of occasions through his messengers (cf. 6:1–5; 9:8; 12:10; 2 Kgs. 17:13; Jer. 7:25; 25:4–7; Zech. 1:4). Nevertheless as often as he called in this way, they went away. God had multiplied the people of Israel and had shown his power in bringing them into the land of Canaan. Yet despite these evidences of his love, Israel forsook him and worshiped other gods (Judg 2:11–13). So God disciplined them through six times of foreign oppression in order to call them back; but the more he did so, the more they apostatized (Wood, L. J. (1986). Hosea. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 212). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.).

  • Proper godly parenting must be more than words. Although it is fitting for continued warnings and pleas for obedience, at some point, continued rejection must be followed with consequences.


Failing to heed the Lord’s call, they persisted in their erroneous ways, and “kept sacrificing to the Baals”. The verbs are now imperfects which denote repeated action in the past. ‘Baals’ (2:13) stands for the multiplicity of heathen deities. Right from the incident of the golden calf at the foot of Sinai (Exod. 32:1–10), the allure of Canaanite worship proved too much for the people to resist, and it influenced their conduct in other matters as well. (cf. 4:13–14; 8:13.) Rejecting the Lord did not leave a spiritual vacuum, but led to embracing all that he hated and had prohibited including “burning offerings to idols”. Once God’s people entered Canaan, they were enticed by the Canaanite deities—here described as the Baals. Because Palestine received minimal rainfall, its pagan inhabitants considered it important to appease a fertility god like Baal to insure good crops and families with many children. The Israelites repeatedly were seduced into joining their pagan neighbors in this (Pechawer, L. (2008). Poetry and prophecy (Vol. 3, p. 242). Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing.).

  • The reason as fathers we must act to instill a biblical foundation in our children, is because if we don’t the world will fill their minds with something else. It is too late when they have their thinking molded by musicians, secular teachers and entertainers. A biblical foundation linked with the continued call for discernment will check everything they read, hear, and see against the word of God.


Verse 3 begins by refocussing attention on the Lord. The ingratitude and spiritual incomprehension of Ephraim is contrasted with the care which the Lord bestowed on them and the attention with which he had advanced their interests. “Yet it was I taught Ephraim to walk”. Ephraim is here the whole of the northern kingdom in its best days. The picture is most probably that of a father teaching a young child to walk. If, however, the term ‘youth’ (11:1) still controls the metaphorical imagery, since a youth would usually have progressed beyond the toddler stage, the phrase might be understood as ‘I walked in front of Ephraim’ to guide him. The second line may in verse 3 can be a prophetic expansion of the description, or it may be another instance of a switch of person in reference to the Lord in a divine speech (cf. 11:11, 12). “I took them up by their armsis usually interpreted as the Lord lifting up and carrying the young child, possibly when it became too tired to go any further. The verb, however, is not the most natural one for conveying this idea and the arms referred to may be Ephraim’s: ‘he grasped them on his [Ephraim’s] arms’ to guide and protect them. Whether we imagine Hosea as the father picking up the child who fails her first attempt at walking or whether we recall our own parenting experiences, the image of God as father presents the divine being as tenderly interested in his people and, despite their rejection, fully dedicated to continuing his love (Shank, H. (2001–). Minor Prophets (p. 116). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.).

  • Fathers must set the example for the family.Do as I say and not as I donever properly guides. It’s more of an encouragement to figure things out for yourself, which is a very painful road to put our children on.


Despite this care Israel did not perceive or acknowledge the activity of the Lord on their behalf. They did not know that I healed them.. They obtusely refused to acknowledge how the Lord had dealt with them and provided for them. His benevolence is described under the imagery of healing, with an obvious play on the words ‘Ephraim’ (ʾeprayim) and ‘I healed them’ (rəpāʾtîm). ‘Heal’ (cf. 5:13; 6:1; 7:1; 14:4) is used in a wider sense of ‘restore, make whole’, particularly here in respect of their relationship with God. ‘I am the Lord who heals you’ (Exod. 15:26) connects his restorative power not primarily with physical disease as such, but with covenant obedience and maintenance of a right relationship with him. Here it would refer to all that the Lord had done by way of forgiving their breaches of the covenant and restoring their national fortunes. However, the people had wilfully refused to admit what was obvious in the history of the Lord’s dealings with them because they had been blinded by the allure of Canaan. Yahweh was responsible for raising Israel from infancy as a nation, but they failed to acknowledge it (Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ho 11:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.).

  • The most tragic rebellion of children is their adamant profession of not needing their parents. They claim that they will do just fine, and can take care of themselves. But all God’s children, including the biological ones in families are designed for covenant community. It is that community that encourages, helps, corrects and instructs in the way of godliness.


God’s particular leading and protecting is seen in verse 4 where he says how: “I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love”. ‘Cords’ and ‘bands’ may suggest pieces of harness to control an animal, though mothers did use light cords to keep their toddlers from straying too far. For God it may indicate restraints imposed by the Lord on the people through the human instrumentality (cf. ‘rod of men’ and ‘stripes of the sons of men’, 2 Sam. 7:14, NIV, HCSB), or it may just suggest humane and sensitive treatment, since all was done with bands of love (cf. 11:1).

  • Regardless of how restrictive children may feel of our oversight, God expects us to place appropriate limits on the freedom of those under our care. As responsibility is shown, the cords of kindness and bands of love can be let out for greater and greater freedom.


That God “became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws does not describe cruel, insensitive action, but a considerate, humane attitude, lifting the yoke to change its position so that it lay more easily on the animal (‘jaws’ seemingly is used for ‘neck’, cf. niv). It may also picture the removal of the yoke so that the animal may feed unimpeded (cf. 10:11).  I bent down/stretched out to them and fed them indicates an action of tender care, stooping down of father to the child, possibly to listen to something which has been said. Fed them/I made ˻him˼ eat completes the picture of God’s loving provision for the needs of his people.



A little boy, frightened by a thunderous lightning storm, called out one dark night, “Daddy, come. I’m scared.” “Son,” the father said, “God loves you and he’ll take care of you.” “I know God loves me,” the boy replied. “But right now I want somebody who has skin on.It is the role of the father be that love of God with skin on.494 (Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (p. 147). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.)


The loving “Call of the Father”, can be seen in:

2)      The Present dealings with His children. (Hosea 11:5-7)

Hosea 11:5-7They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them because of their own counsels. 7 My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the Most High, he shall not raise them up at all. (ESV)


While there will be refugees who escape to Egypt (9:6), it is explicitly ruled out that Egypt is going to control the people;They shall not return to the land of Egypt”. Instead they will fall under the domination of Assyria, which at this point in history would a far harsher taskmaster. Ephraim’s own leadership had collapsed (10:3, 15), and so they will be compelled to have a foreign overlord as their king. This loss of national sovereignty will come about because they have refused to return in repentance to the Lord. The problem was not lack of an invitation to do so, but the fact that they stubbornly and deliberately said no. The repetition of the ‘return’ in different senses points to the pivotal role of repentance. “Return” is the same word translated as “repent” elsewhere. Israel could not remain stationary. It had to return either to the Lord or to bondage. Israel’s refusal to return to the Lord would result in a return to slavery.( Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (Ho 11:5). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.)

  • There are a lot of things that we as fathers desire for our children. We want them to be healthy, work and relate well to others. All of that is for naught, if our main concern is not in how they relate to God.


Verse 6 describes three aspects of enemy aggression which will be the outcome of Ephraim’s refusal to repent. The sword indicates that the damage will not occur from a natural disaster, but that devastation and death will come as a consequence of military action (cf. 7:16). Mention of their cities reflects their strategic importance as fortified centres of resistance (8:14; 10:14), situated at key locations throughout the land, where they would also serve as hubs for the life of surrounding communities, including their religious life.

  • The natural dive for independence makes it too easy for youth to cast away their roots. They seek to establish their own lives free from their parents circles. Part of a fathers job is to explain and show how community, especially the community of faith is essential for development. A child can establish a new home, family, job and friends. If a faith community is missing, there is a crucial hole that just invites disaster.


The second line of the verse provides further detail regarding the havoc caused by the sword, which stands by metonymy for military action in general. But what is it that it will consume/ finish off? The word rendered the bars of their gates”can be understood as areference to the city defences (niv, esv, hcsb). The gate functioned to block unauthorised entry into the city, and it was the weakest part of its fortification. If there was no bar to hold the gate firm against enemy pressure, then the strength of the city walls was irrelevant, and other forms of defences were worthless. Once the gate has succumbed to enemy action, the city lay open to its attackers.

  • Proper exercise of fatherly wisdomis to see critical weaknesses. A child may have all types of resources, but without a strong faith, when these are lost, often one may feel lost without a transcendent stronghold of faith.


There is a third reference to the impact of the military invasion that will devour them because of their own counsels. Their counsels/plans refers to the frantic attempts to work out a strategy to counter Assyrian pressure, all of which proved unavailing because they were not conceived in submission to God. What they devised led not to safety, but drew them into further peril and eventual destruction. Israel no longer sees God as the leader of her armed forces. She fails to own him as Lord. Therefore, the sweep of superior Assyrian forces moving through Ephraim’s cities results from her obstinate disobedience; Assyrian military superiority is not the cause of the nation’s downfall. Swords whirl and flash in the streets of her fortified cities. Reinforced city gates hang misaligned. The rush of enemy warriors tramples carefully drawn battle plans underfoot (Guenther, A. R. (1998). Hosea, Amos (p. 181). Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.)

  • A Father properly cautions a child in what counsel he or she regards. Youth will often listen to friends or collogues that often don’t come from a biblical worldview or have godly experience in a situation. What often seems expedient is just a quick way to destruction.


In verse 7, the one who says my people must be taken to be the Lord, and not the prophet, because of the following reference to ‘backsliding from me’, which cannot refer to Hosea. ‘My people’ shows that despite all their deviance the Lord still recognised his relationship to them, something which the people themselves were perversely not prepared to do. Rather they are bent/hung on turning away/backsliding from me. The verb embodies a metaphor of something being hung up on hooks, possibly exposed to public disgrace (cf. 2 Sam. 21:12), or else caught dangling in a state of suspense (cf. Deut. 28:66). Either way, the people are viewed disparagingly as they are helpless in the grip of their hankering after pagan gods. ‘Turning away/Backsliding’ is derived from the same root as ‘return’, which may be used positively of moving back in repentance to God. Literally the phrase is ‘my backsliding’/‘my return’, but the backwards movement is that of the people as they spiritually regress from adherence to the Lord and his covenant standards into the pagan ways of Canaan (cf. Jer. 2:19; Ezek. 37:21). The prophets continually call the people “upwards” to the way of righteousness (cf. 11:2). “None will lift themselves up.” …. The basic idea seems to be that no one would respond to the call of the prophets (Smith, J. E. (1994). The Minor Prophets (Ho 11:5–7). Joplin, MO: College Press.).


Please turn to Zechariah 7 (p.795)


The third line of the verse records that, because the people have refused to repent, the Lord will not grant their requests for relief (cf. Isa. 59:2; Zech. 1:4; 7:11–13). “Though they call out to the Most High, he shall not raise them up at all/together”.Raise up’/‘lift up’ may be used in the sense of elevating to a safe place and so effecting a rescue (cf. ‘lift high on a rock’, Ps. 27:5). Tragically, they had reached a point where their cries to God would no longer be heard. The nation was ripe for judgment. (Pechawer, L. (2008). Poetry and prophecy (Vol. 3, p. 243). Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing.)


Zechariah 7:8-13 And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. 12 They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts. 13 “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts, 14 “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.” (ESV)


  • As godly fathers we must resist the urge to rescue our kids from difficulties of their own making. We should help, give counsel and encourage, but to remove them from the very sources of difficulty will not strengthen them for godly service.


The loving “Call of the Father”, can be seen in:

3)      The Future dealings with His children(Hosea 11:8-11)

Hosea 11:8-11How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. 9 I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. 10 They shall go after the Lord; he will roar like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west; 11 they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria, and I will return them to their homes, declares the Lord. (ESV)


The enduring nature of the Lord’s commitment had already been indicated when, despite the gross misconduct of the nation, he continued to regard them as ‘my people’ (11:7). Now in verse 8, he directly addresses them, and reveals the intensity of his attachment to them. Even though he has unsparingly exposed their deep-seated disposition to rebel and to offend him, there still wells up within him love and tender compassion. On the verge of destroying them utterly he draws back. This provides the ultimate context within which previous statements announcing doom have to be understood (cf. 5:6; 8:13; 9:3, 6, 17). Distraught, the Lord reflects on Israel’s unrepentant behaviour, which dooms the whole nation to destruction. They have thoughtlessly given up on him, but his commitment is stronger and he cannot just leave them to the dire outcome of their wilful defiance. Ephraim and Israel must be synonymous in this context (cf. 11:1, 3), and both refer to the entire northern kingdom, with the latter term particularly considering them as the covenant people of the Lord.

  • Our children need to know that there is no situation by which they cease to be our children. Making this fact clear, aids in repentance, for they know that no situation takes them too far from our love.


How?’ is a word of lamentation (cf. 2 Sam. 1:19; Mic. 2:4), which here articulates deep concern at their intransigence rather than being a rhetorical question asked of others for dramatic effect. Instead, God addresses himself, and in this soliloquy Hosea’s audience—and subsequent readers—are permitted to overhear that inner communing and so have access to the mind of God. This profound questioning of anguished disappointment is, of course, an anthropomorphic presentation, but it is not on that account to be reckoned as unreal or contrived. Give you up and hand you over require a potential scenario involving more than a single enemy incursion against the nation, no matter how savage. What is envisaged is the Lord completely surrendering the people to their foes to do with them as they please.

  • Although we must allow our children to experience the consequence of their actions, there must be a limit. There are particularly onerous situations that we must intervene.


Previously backward glances had been to incidents involving Israel, but now they are to Admah and Zeboyim, two of the five cities of the plain which may well have been located under what is now the southern end of the Dead Sea (Gen. 14:2). Along with the better known Sodom and Gomorrah they were utterly destroyed by the Lord (Gen. 19:24–29), though they are not specifically identified in that narrative. But later these four cities are named by Moses when he says of them that their land had been turned into ‘a scorching waste of brimstone and salt; nothing could be sown; nothing could grow; no vegetation could spring up in it’ because of the Lord’s anger and wrath (Deut. 29:23). The misconduct of the cities of the plain had justly exposed them to the unabated indignation of God, and it was the same penalty which awaited the people of the north. Because they had abandoned the Lord’s covenant and become virtual heathen (cf. Deut. 29:24–28), as the righteous Judge this was the only verdict he could deliver. Because of the Lord’s great love for Ephraim, it was painful to punish her as He did these two cities, which were destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Gen. 10:19; 19:23–25; Deut. 29:23). (MacArthur, J., Jr. (Ed.). (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed., p. 1263). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.)


But the questions posed by God do not reveal him as a cold, heartless dispenser of justice. The two concluding lines make further reference to his inner feelings. My heart speaks of the sorrow God experiences when he contemplates the unmitigated imposition of the verdict demanded by justice. That His heart recoils within/Is in turmoil (from hāpak) perhaps pictures a process of inwardly turning over one option after another to see if there is a more acceptable way forwards. The same root (hāpak) was used of the Lord ‘overthrowing’ those cities (Gen. 19:25, 29; Deut. 29:23), but the prospect of such a judgement on his people impacts on the Lord himself, causing intense inner perturbation (cf. Lam. 1:20), even before disaster engulfs the people. Within me is literally ‘upon me’ and pictures the emotionally fraught situation pressing down on the spirit of the individual involved. My compassions (cf. Isa. 57:18; Zech. 1:13) refers to God’s desire to comfort and console, and not to execute judgement. His desire: “grows warm and tenderdenoting compassion in Gen. 43:30 and 1 Kgs. 3:26.

  • As fathers, our exercising compassion is often not the easy route. Even here referring to God’s consideration, we will carefully need to balance justice with mercy.


The tensions exposed in the divine self-disclosure of the previous verse are now resolved by a decided rejection in verse 9 of the option to impose the utter extermination which justice on its own demands. Instead God determines not to execute my burning anger/the fierceness of my anger (cf. Jer. 4:26; 12:13). There is no denying the existence of divine wrath against Israel’s sin, and that, if it were the only factor in the situation and if it were allowed to run its course unmitigated, then sheer ruin would ensue. But the reality of divine anger against the bull-calf of Samaria (cf. 8:5) and the associated misconduct of his people are balanced by other considerations arising from within the character of God himself. His restraint in the situation is marked by the fourfold negative not, indicating that the seemingly inevitable and logical outcome of the scenario does not eventuate. Lines 3 and 4 of the verse explain why this is so, but nowhere is there any indication of how God will resolve this inner dissonance between love and justice without compromising his integrity. The destruction referred to that inflicted by Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser, who deprived Israel of Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali (2 Kin. 15:29). Ultimately, it referred to the promise that after the long dispersion, God would, in mercy, restore His people in the kingdom, never to be destroyed again (MacArthur, J., Jr. (Ed.). (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed., p. 1263). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.).


Please turn to Deuteronomy 29 (p.171)


The significance of I will not again destroy/return to ruin Ephraim shows the character of his renewed intervention in the affairs of the north, severe though it would be, would not have as its final outcome the sweeping ruin which had been imposed on the cities of the plain. “For I am God not a man”. For sets out why the Lord determines to act in this way and maintain his commitment to the covenant relationship. I am God and not man (ʾîš). ‘God’ (ʾēl, cf. 1:10) emphasises his true deity. As such, he is different from his creation (cf. Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29). What is being said is that his response is worthy of God and not patterned after the corrupt and degraded behaviour of Adam’s fallen descendants. There are ways of operating that are available to God which lie beyond humankind. Man, lacking God’s love, would punish, but God, full of love and compassion, sometimes chooses not to punish (and is free to make this choice without compromising His justice because He punished the sins of all men in His Son, Jesus Christ. In God,mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” Psa. 85:10). (Gingrich, R. E. (2004). The Books of Hosea and Joel (p. 32). Memphis, TN: Riverside Printing.)


It is perhaps relevant that the passage in Deuteronomy 29 which forms the interpretative background for these verses:

Deuteronomy 29:18-29 18 Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, 19 one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. 20 The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 And the Lord will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law. 22 And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the Lord has made it sick23 the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and wrath24 all the nations will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ 25 Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, 26 and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. 27 Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, 28 and the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.’ 29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (ESV)

  • The most dangerous situation in a Christian home is to assume the regeneration of everyone in the household. One who, as v. 19 notes, hears the word, blesses himself, because he assumes his inherent goodness, without repentance, and assumes being safe from judgement. Quoting once again the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, one must never presume God’s grace. Yet for the one who repents, not everything that is true of God has been revealed. That there are secret things not revealed where the saint must trust, obey, and be humble before God. What God has revealed is for the sake of obedience (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 374). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.)


Holiness in the Old Testament characterises that which is separate, and the Holy One in Hosea 11:9 as a divine title points to God as unique, the one who stands apart from his creation, perfect (cf. Matt. 5:48) and good (cf. Luke 18:19). His action and responses are not conditioned by finitude; they are incomparable. But the wonder of his covenant relationship with his people is that he is in your midst (cf. Isa. 12:6; Zeph. 3:15–17). His is not an arms-length commitment but is one in which he is present and active in the community of the faithful and also within their lives as individuals (cf. Isa. 57:15). God’s otherness works itself out not by compromising his uniqueness (and inherent purity) but by manifesting itself in a love which will so change his people that his goals will be accomplished. The holiness of God is the foundation of all God’s attributes and the cornerstone of man’s hope.( Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ho 11:9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)

  • Often we think as fathers that “of course my kids know how much I love them, I work so hard to provide”. If there is anything that we see in how God the Father deals with His children, is that He does more than provide. He is present, approachable and available to His children.


Because the Lord is in the midst of His people, He will “not come in wrath”. This is the very assurance of salvation itself: therefore, being justified by faith, we are saved from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:1). It is a token of moderation in the sentence he imposed that he stopped short of this step in the case of Samaria.God never changes. He will punish sin with judgement—the judgement of everlasting suffering in hell—but He is also a loving Father who will freely forgive all those who do change and who turn to him in repentance and faith. That is the message that Jesus came to give, and that is the blessed salvation which he went all the way to the cross to bring about. However, if we today, this Father’s Day, act like the bulk of the northern kingdom of Israel, who persisted in their waywardness away from God the Father, then we shall perish in our sin. Hosea’s message holds good for all of us. All these many centuries later, it is still true that ‘It is time to seek the Lord’ (10:12). The Holy One, the Heavenly Father is still among us and he calls us to follow him, just as Jesus called his disciples to follow him (Matt. 4:19) (Bentley, M. (2000). Turning Back to God: Hosea and Obadiah Simply Explained (p. 187). Darlington, England: Evangelical Press.).

  • There can be no greater celebration this Father’s Day than coming to your Heavenly Father in repentance and faith.


(Format Note: Some base commentary from Mackay, J. L. (2012). Hosea: A Mentor Commentary (pp. 289–312). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.)


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